Dear Mr. O'Reilly
Jump to 1:50 for the fireworks.
Dear Mr. O'Reilly
I am amused that you brought up tides in an attempt to argue for the necessity of faith in explanations of the natural world. Perhaps you were unaware that the church, under the inquisition, found Galileo’s heliocentric model of the tides so threatening that it suppressed the original title of his Dialogue: “Dialogue on the Ebb and Flow of the Sea” in 1632. The uncensored version remained on the Index of Prohibited Books until 1835.
Galileo’s model was not very correct. However, a mere fifty years later Newton postulated a revolutionary model of universal gravitation, which accurately accounted for the dynamics of the ocean under an inverse square force. Luckily his Principia met with a more favorable intellectual climate, although perhaps it failed to garner controversy because few people could actually understand it.
The debate over the causes of the tides was, for all intents and purposes, resolved over three hundred years ago. The prevailing supernatural explanation has been abandoned in favor of a hugely successful model rooted in physics.
Perhaps, then, you understand how laughably anachronistic it sounds to challenge a non-supernatural interpretation of the world on the basis of tides. I urge you to consider what other explanations you may have rejected in favor of faith.
P.S. It should be noted, of course, that Newton’s model was not strictly speaking correct; it was a mathematical approximation. Since then we have refined our models of spacetime and gravity significantly, mapped much of the ocean floor, and our predictions have become much more accurate. At no time have we thrown up our hands and claimed “Ah, God did it.”
P.P.S. The supervening question of whether God is, in some sense, physics… is of course open to debate. This is why I use the words “supernatural” and “natural” quite carefully.